06/20/2017 7:34AM

Sparkman: Gun Runner carries on Evans legacy

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Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
Gun Runner, romping in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs last Saturday, is a son of Candy Ride out of Quiet Giant, who sold for $3 million at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

In many ways the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale was a turning point in the Thoroughbred marketplace. The market had basically been cut in half by the global economic meltdown of 2008, but began showing mild signs of recovery earlier in 2011. Multiple champion Royal Delta was the star attraction at Keeneland November, topping the sale on an $8.5 million bid from Benjamin Leon’s Besilu Stable, second highest ever for a female Thoroughbred.

Although Royal Delta brought the highest price, the dispersal of the late Edward P. “Ned” Evans’s bloodstock was more broadly responsible for attracting buyers to the sale, including new buyers like Leon. Grade 1 winner Christmas Kid, in foal to Bernardini, topped the Evans dispersal at $4.2 million, second highest of the sale. The second highest among the Evans mares and third highest of the sale was Quiet Giant, a stakes-winning 4-year-old maiden half-sister to Evans-bred 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. She was purchased by Besilu for $3 million.

Quiet Giant was bred to sensational young sire Candy Ride, and her first foal is Gun Runner, who captured his second Grade 1 victory last Saturday in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Quiet Giant was the best representative available at the sale from the best family developed by Ned Evans, who had purchased her third dam, Flight Dancer, by Misty Flight, in the 1970s. Bred in Kentucky by Marie A. Moore, Flight Dancer was a granddaughter of Racing Hall of Fame champion Gallorette, by Challenger II, out of the stakes-winning Native Dancer mare Courbette. A half-sister to the outstanding stayer and good Argentine sire Dancing Moss, by Mossborough, Flight Dancer was talented and precocious enough to win four of her seven starts at 2, and ran third in the prestigious Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, but did not train on at 3.

Flight Dancer produced two top-class fillies for Evans. Misty Gallore, by Halo, won 11 of 19 starts including five graded stakes, headed by the Grade 2 Hempstead Handicap, but did not establish an important branch of her family. Minstrella, by The Minstrel, however, earned champion Irish 2-year-old filly honors with Group 1 victories in the Phoenix Stakes and Moyglare Stud Stakes, and produced the Evans-bred graded-stakes-winning fillies Colonial Minstrel, by Pleasant Colony, and Minidar, by Alydar, both dams and granddams of stakes winners. Minstrella is also the dam of stakes winner Unrestrained, by Unbridled, and stakes producers Colonella and Minicolony, both by Pleasant Colony.

Misty Dancer, by Lyphard, Quiet Giant’s second dam, was an unplaced half-sister to Minstrella and Misty Gallore. Misty Dancer produced stakes winner Quiet Dance, by Quiet American, and the unplaced Fog Dance, by Unbridled’s Song, dam of Grade 1 winner Rolling Fog, by Posse. Quiet Dance is the dam of four stakes winners, headed by 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, by Saint Ballado. Saint Liam died after only one markedly successful season at stud.

Quiet Dance herself won 7 of 12 starts and $405,389, including the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap. Since Gun Runner, she has produced the 3-year-old Malibu Moon filly Quiet Flirt, who was beaten a neck at Belmont Park on May 10 in her first start. Her 2015 and 2016 foals are both fillies by Tapit, and she has a 2017 full brother to Gun Runner on the ground.

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Undefeated and really unchallenged in six career starts, all in Argentina and the U.S., Candy Ride has sired 11 Grade 1 winners among his 70 stakes winners from 1,033 foals age 3 and up (7%), headed by 2013 champion 2-year-old male Shared Belief (out of Common Hope, by Storm Cat), winner of 10 of his 12 starts.

Gun Runner, who was purchased privately as a yearling by Three Chimneys Farm and Winchell Thoroughbreds as part of a larger package, has now won 8 of 15 starts, and is Candy Ride’s leading earner with $4,638,500. A medium-sized, rather lightly made, elegant horse, Gun Runner is inbred 4x4 to Fappiano, 4x5 to Blushing Groom, and 5x4 to Lyphard, while Quiet Dance carries the obligatory 4x4 cross to Northern Dancer.

Quiet Giant is not the only mare from the Evans dispersal who has already produced a high-class horse. Black Sea, by Galileo out of Christmas Kid won the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial last year. Family Tree (a $350,000 purchase by Dell Ridge), by Smart Strike out of Giant Mover, by Giant’s Causeway, won the Grade 2 Indiana Oaks and Grade 3 Iowa Oaks last year, and Kobla Cat (purchased for $380,000 by Nicoma Bloodstock, agent), is dam of Grade 3 Sanford winner Bitumen, by Mineshaft, and stakes winner Meshell, by Elusive Quality.

With the depth of pedigree and quality in Evans’s broodmare band there are sure to be more to come.